It's a Wonderful Death
Author: Sarah J. Schmitt
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Rating: 5 Stars!
Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?
But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.
RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.
It's a Wonderful Death is a truly original young adult paranormal novel that will have readers laughing out loud while reading, and then leave them thinking about some very important life topics. The novel follows our popular teenage main character - RJ - as she tries to get a do-over when a grim reaper accidentally takes her soul. RJ is the popular queen bee at her high school. Although she's at the top of the social ladder, RJ's done some terrible things in her short life in order to get there. After being taken around the Afterlife while the higher ups (including Death himself) decide what to do with her, RJ has the chance to stop and think about her life, the choices she's made, and if it was all worth it in the end. She's given the choice of waiting in the lobby until it's her actual time to pass through, or she can choose three different times in her life to re-do in an effort to get her life back on the right track of being saved. RJ takes what she thinks is the obvious choice: go back in time and change some things. Little does she know that these decisions and their outcomes will change her life permanently, and she finds herself asking if it might be better to stay in limbo than to be a social outcast for the rest of her life. Will RJ make the right decisions this time around or is she truly unredeemable?
I wasn't sure what to expect before reading this book - a book about a teenager who dies and is given the chance to make things right - AND it was supposed to be funny? I was skeptical to say the least. Luckily for me, everything the description said turned out to be true and I ended up loving this novel. It's all the things it says it is and more - it's funny, light hearted, and interesting - while also being full of emotion and leaving the reader thinking about some hard topics. RJ is a great main character for the book. She's sarcastic, stubborn, and always gets her way - at least at the beginning of the book. RJ grows and matures a ton throughout the story. She might still be sarcastic, but after all that she's seen from her own past along with the all of her decisions and their consequences - she really opens her eyes and has a change of heart. I loved her snarky comments and inner dialogue, but I really enjoyed watching her remember who she once was before turning into the person she is - and then realizing all of the mistakes she had made and the terrible things that had happened because of her. RJ learns a lot of really hard lessons throughout the book, which leaves the reader thinking about the tough topics and their own lives.
Even though the book has a serious plot and discusses deep issues, the overall mood was light for the most part. The characters were all very unique with distinct personalities and quirks - and I loved getting to know them all. The author does a fantastic job creating all of the places RJ goes - especially the Afterlife. There's so much detailed description and vivid imagery that I had no problem picturing it all in my mind and inserting myself inside the book alongside RJ. It was definitely not what I expected or imagined - and I mean that in the best of ways. This is one of those books that you really love but have a hard time explaining the reasons to others (or attempting to write a review). I guess it's something that each reader has to experience for themselves in order to "get it." I found myself not liking RJ very much in the beginning to connecting with her deeply. She's a very realistic teenage girl that faces problems and issues that are normal everyday happenings for teens today. She was easy to identify with - the good and the bad - and I think her character's experiences will resonate with readers of all ages. I found myself hooked from the first couple paragraphs and I didn't quit reading until I had finished the book - which turned out to only take a few short hours due to the quick pace and the easy flow of the story. I could continue to ramble on about why I liked this novel so much, but I would end up going in circles and I'm sure I already accidentally skipped over some things. One thought I kept having was that the story reminded me a lot of the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" with some obvious changes. I'm sure that this was part of the point due to the title and all. If I had to compare it to something, I would say that it's a mix of "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Mean Girls." I can't recommend this book highly enough to fans of YA fiction, especially paranormal and fantasy. I honestly hope everyone who enjoys the YA genre gives this one a shot - I think it will pleasantly surprise you. This is one book I know I'll be re-reading several times over and I'll never get tired of it.
Here are the Tracks for the Soundtrack Sampler. The entire It's A Wonderful Death Playlist can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6yTIiZZMQcVaILL1YoDiMA/playlists
It's A Wonderful Death Official Soundtrack Sampler
Track One: I Just Wanna Live - Good Charlotte
Track Two: Are You Happy Now - Megan & Liz
Track Three: All In - Lifehouse
Track Four: Fight Song - Rachel Platten
Track Five: Live with Abandon - Newsboys
Track Six: I Lived - OneRepublic
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Sarah J. Schmitt is a K-8 school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library who, in addition to planning a variety of events, enjoys opening up the world of books to reluctant readers. She runs a teen writing program that combines Skype visits from well-known authors and screenwriters and critique group style feedback.
Prior to immersing herself in the world of the written word, Sarah earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Indiana University where she worked with first year college students as they acclimated to college life. Sarah lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. She is an active member of SCBWI, ALA and the Indiana Library Federation and is a regular participant at the Midwest Writer's Workshop. Her debut novel, IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2015 from Sky Pony Press.
- A SIGNED copy of The Heir by Kiera Cass OR a SIGNED copy of HOOK'S REVENGE by Heidi Shultz
- A Handmade bracelet in RJ's favorite color: purple
- A IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH swag pack
- A Funko Pop! Pocket Keychain (Game of Thrones Daenerys Targaryen)